Lunch & Dinner


Simple Comfort Food

Homemade Lasagna

Making homemade lasagna can be intimidating for some. Actually, it is quite easy. Even I can go it and I don’t cook! First let’s decide on what type of lasagna you want to make – vegetarian, meat, or whatever you might prefer. The size of the pan is the next decision you need to make. If you use the standard disposable aluminum lasagna pan you can purchase from the grocery store, your cleanup will be simple.Purchase the ingredients you’ll need: one to two packages of lasagna noodles (depending on the pan size), 2 cans of diced tomatos (16 ounce size), 2 cans of tomato sauce (small cans), bulk or italian sausage (if you want meat in your lasagna), basil, oregano, fennel seed, one medium onion (diced into 1/4 inch cubes), one medium green pepper (diced into 1/5 inch cubes), 5-6 large mushrooms (button or crimini), parmesan, romano, asiago and mozzella cheese, and ricotta cheese. Salt and sugar.

Blend the parmesan, romano, and asiago cheeses. Set aside.

Make the lasagna noodles according to the package. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix together the diced tomatos, tomato sauce. Add a teaspoon of basil and a teaspoon of oregano. Take a half teaspoon of fennel seed and crack them with a mortar and pestal. Add to sauce mixture. Add onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Add salt and sugar to taste. Simmer on medium heat until all ingredients are blended and warmed through.

If you want meat, cook bulk or italian sausage removed from the skin in a frying pan until brown and cooked through. Make sure the sausage is in small chunks no larger than 1/2 inch in size.When finished cooking put meat on a plate layered with paper towel to drain the grease off the meat. Add the meat to the sauce.

Now take your pan and coat it with olive oil and then let the layering begin. Make a layer of noodles, then make a layer of sauce, then another layer of noodles. Now make a layer of ricotta. Then make a layer of noodles, then make a layer of sauce, another layer of cheese, another layer of noodles, then another layer of cheese.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Poke holes in the foil. Place in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for an hour. Remove foil and let cheese brown (it may take 15 minutes to a half hour). Remove from the oven and let everything cool for about 10 minutes. Cut and serve with your favorite crusty bread.Buon appetito!Susan's Blog Signature

Pasta In A Bowl


Pasta In A Bowl
I love pasta. All kinds. I guess you could say I am a “Carb Queen”! Regardless, there is nothing better than simple comfort food that comes in a bowl. Pasta In A Bowl is a very easy, quick and inexpensive meal to make.
The trick with this is to start the sauce first. However, you do want to start a pan of water to boil. Prepare the water according to the package of pasta and heat it slowly. It should take about 10-15 minutes to get the water boiling. I know you’re wondering why I am asking you to take so long to get the water boiling. It’s all about timing, so trust me. At this point, don’t put the pasta in the water.
Empty your favorite pasta sauce (I tend to like the Classico brand, but you can use whatever you prefer) into a saucepan. Bring the temperature to medium heat. When we’re in the mood, we might make the sauce from scratch, but it’s off season and not worth the effort tonight. Remember that your sauce should taste the way you want it. We always add extra ingredients such as fennel, basil, oregano, salt, bay leaf and sugar to taste. If you need to add some vegies, choose onion, green peppers, and black olives.
Mix all the ingredients together in the saucepan and simmer the sauce on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes Remember you don’t want to cook the sauce on really high heat because you’ll burn it. I will start out a little above medium heat and then turn it down as I don’t really want it to boil. Use a splatter screen while the sauce is heating to minimize the sauce from spraying out of the pan.
About halfway thru the heating process of the sauce, the water should be boiling. Simply take whatever pasta you might have on had, above I used shells. Place the pasta in the water and make as directed. When the pasta is finished, remove the pan from the heat and drain into a pasta strainer. Don’t rinse. The sauce should be ready now so turn off the heat. Be sure to remove the bay leaf if you’ve used one as it’s toxic if you ingest it.
Place your pasta in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. Add parmigiano reggiano or other cheese you prefer. Serve with a baguette and your favorite glass of wine!

This whole meal costs less than $5.00 for two depending on the extra ingredients you add and if you choose to serve it with a baguette. (I didn’t count the cost of the wine, because this page is all about the food!)

Buon appetito!

Susan's Blog Signature

Homemade Pizza


Mmmm…mmmm…mmmm! There is nothing better than homemade pizza. Not frozen, not take-n-bake, not take-and-eat, nor restaurant version can match the wonderful gooey, cheesy, deliciousness.


The best part…it’s totally unpredictable. Why do I say that you might ask? It’s unpredictable because this fabulous food can be made from a multitude of ingredients used in numerous combinations. No two pizzas would be alike if you wanted it to be.
Pizza is all about the crust, sauce and the toppings!
Make the crust using whatever method you choose. Some of you would prefer to use a standard mix, while others would prefer to make it from scratch using your grandmothers recipe. This takes about 15 minutes to make (plus rising time) and costs about 50 cents. Still others may just want to make it simple and use a pre-package crust like Boboli. Use whichever one you prefer and find the easiest. If you have the time, try making it from scratch. There are lots of recipes available online to choose from. Be sure to make it and pre-bake it for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees.


One of the things that we noticed about pizzas, other than the ones that we make, is the lack of good or enough sauce. We either make the sauce ourselves from garden fresh tomatoes (in-season) or by using plenty of tomato paste. You don’t want the sauce to be too runny because then all the toppings just slide off the slice. Be sure to add the appropriate spices to taste. Some popular ones include fennel, basil, and oregano. If you want to experiment, try using pesto or some other type of sauce you’d want to see on a pizza.


Living in California has afforded us to make our pizzas with the most freshest ingredients. Use a variety of fresh local ingredients from the neighborhood farmer’s market, vegetable stand or the local grocer. Be sure to select the freshest mushrooms, peppers (all colors), onions, black olives or any other topping that suits your taste. We’ve noticed that many Californians like to experiment with their pizza so they will select artichoke hearts, roasted eggplant, zucchini and even sweet corn. Choose the ingredients that you love and don’t be afraid to experiment. If you want pineapple on your pizza, then go for it!


There are a variety of meats and seafoods that you can choose from, including ham, chicken, pepperoni, proscuitto, sausage, venison, salmon, lobster, tuna and prawns. Choose from any of those or not at all. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional veggie pizza!


Select the cheese that works for you…try fresh mozzarella,  cheddar, colby, parmigiano – reggiano, or something even more exotic like feta, goat cheese, gorgonzola, or roquefort.
Remember, the type of pizza you decide to make will dictate the types of ingredients you choose to put on it. For me, the perfect pizza is just plain and simple. I like cheese and sausage, so it’s just fresh mozzarella or maybe cheddar and sausage from my favorite vendor.
Once you’ve selected your ingredients, and placed them on top of your pre-baked crust or pre-packaged crust, then place in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Be sure to watch it so as not to burn the crust or the cheese.
You can make a large pizza (16″-18″) for under $10.00 (depending on the ingredient selection) and enjoy it for several meals. Very economical and delicious.
Buon appetito!

Susan's Blog Signature